The days before going away on a trip are usually full of last-minute shopping for travel essentials and other organisational tasks, such as begging a friend or family member to house sit or come and check up on the place and collect the mail every couple of days. If you have pets, then there’s pet sitting to sort out or a boarding kennel to find.
Looking to cut out the begging, Adelaide service My Home Watch wants to put the traveler’s mind at ease through its home checkup and reporting service.
As founder Natasha Morgan puts it, a vacant home is a vulnerable home: there were over 217,000 break ins recorded in 2010.
“We are here to help reduce the number of break ins. Thieves look for homes that have overgrown gardens and lawns to mail and junk mail lying around, no bins out, no lights on, and the absence of a security system,” she explained.
My Home Watch takes care of all that, customising its services to suit the needs of each client to give them peace of mind while they’re away.
The services range from the low tech – putting the bins out, watering plants, collecting mail, looking for water leaks or infestations, feeding pets, and even stocking the fridge with groceries before the client arrives home – through to the higher tech, where My Home Watch can install a security camera system, Arlo, allowing clients to watch a livestream of the goings-on at their home.
“It solves the stress and worry about leaving for a holiday or business trip, and gives peace of mind knowing your home is being cared for by a trusted professional. It also gives overseas investors and holiday home owners the ability to have their homes serviced and checked at times when they are vacant,” Morgan said.
The idea for My Home Watch came through Morgan’s own need. Preparing for her first family holiday, she said she reluctantly called her mum to ask if she would be able to look after the house while they were away.
“I felt so guilty. Mum lived 40 minutes away,” she said.
Thinking she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, having to ask family, friends or neighbours, Morgan began talking to others about the problem after returning from her trip, and began to work on creating My Home Watch.
The service works by a client first booking a meet and greet through the platform, where a My Home Watch specialist meets them to discuss their individual needs, dates, and the handover procedure for their keys.
If they have made a booking for an Arlo system, My Home Watch will arrange for this to be installed the day before they leave, with Morgan explaining this setup takes less than 10 minutes.
From here, home checks and services will be conducted as specified by the client. My Home Watch has partnered with QRID, a system which allows the person conducting the check to timestamp it and show their GPS positioning, automatically sending to the client once the check is complete. They are also able to attach photos to reports, with all of this also available to clients through their client dashboard.
It’s easy to see My Home Watch growing through a sharing economy model, signing up people to conduct checks, however Morgan opted to go for a franchise model instead.
“There were discussions about another model for scalability, however due to the need for a strict vetting process the decision to franchise was the logical choice. As our service is a very personal professional service we need to ensure that all specialists fit our requirements,” she explained.
Morgan believes My Home Watch is primed for growth as she sees no direct competitors to its service, with house or pet sitters, or security companies the closest.
“In comparison, My Home Watch makes going away simple for customers; it gives customers peace of mind to know that a Home Watch Property Specialist is a trained professional,” she said.
“The preparation it takes to get your home ready for a house sitter is exhausting before you even leave to go away, then you’re left with the feeling that you potentially have a stranger in your home. They may still, not look after you home and pets as you had hoped they would have.”
On the other hand, having a live camera feed through Arlo, or GPS reporting allows My Home Watch clients full peace of mind, Morgan believes.
Aimed at a broad market, from frequent business travellers to families going away for school holidays and older Australians caravanning or cruising for weeks or months at a time, Morgan is hoping to see around 50 franchisees come on board over the next 12 months to ensure the capital cities are well-serviced.
Image: Natasha Morgan. Source: Supplied.